Making Me Move.

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The definition of DREAM: to contemplate the possibility of doing something

When I read that definition, the concept of dreaming doesn’t seem that scary! I mean, it’s just a thought! A possibility! Why not, right?

I purposely wanted to post my last post and this post on the same day. Mostly because I want to show how faithful the Lord is in answering our cries. And to also encourage YOU with what He has shown to ME. My last post was birthed from the pain of losing my job after just getting engaged to James and not knowing what in the world the Lord wanted us to do. I now sit in an apartment in Austin, Texas, we have been married for two months, I have been working at Hill Country Bible Church since September, and I feel incredibly humbled and absolutely overwhelmed by the Lord’s favor. How in the world did this happen?

I think God loves to make examples of us. He does it in Scripture so I think we forget He still does it WITH US today. In my case I hope that people can laugh at my foolishness, that somehow God can use that, too. My disbelief is downright embarrassing at times. He has blown me away with the reality of how He desires to use my life as an example of His power if I will just trust and believe and follow Him. So how did I get here? Well, no matter how disillusioned I seemed, I kept looking for ministry jobs online. And I stumbled on one that sounded like my dream. And James suggested I apply. And we both looked at each other like WHOA. I mean, applying for a job in another state took risk. Sometimes going after a dream seems scary. The possibility takes shape. And then, well, God moved swiftly and I got the job! And then it got real. And it required James and me to bump up our wedding 5 months earlier than planned! It meant no honeymoon right now. It made us trust that James would find a job here, too. It took us 14 hours away from a LOT of people and family that we love dearly. It meant I was moving out of an adorable house with a huge yard and into an apartment where I can hear our neighbors obsession with Daft Punk. It meant being alone, just James and me, in our first year of marriage.

It meant I get my dream.

I am working for an amazing church. I get the job of hanging out with awesome young adult women for a living. I get to meet these ladies for coffee and hear all about their stories and live life with them every single day. I get to laugh and cry with them about real life and how God loves us and teaches us, stretches and prunes us. I get to explore a new amazing city with my husband. I get to watch him go to work every day knowing that the Lord provided him with a job before we even moved here! I get to meet many precious children play outside while I am on my walks with Honey (because we have no yard!). I get the opportunity to trust God with our finances every month. I get to see a lot more rain in Texas (which I LOVE!) I get to stay in touch with all the people I love because technology is fab and always advancing! I get to be a wife! I get to depend on Jesus more than ever before. I get the chance to be NEW!

This post has a much different tone doesn’t it? Because hindsight gives us a lot of answers. The Lord was making me MOVE. And none of that would have happened had He planned my life around my short-sighted agenda. Because of His great love for me and persistence, I get to live my dream.

I don’t think this is always the case, so please don’t read this and think that our theology as Christians should be that we always gets a fluffy rainbow at the end of our pain. I think sometimes God’s best is painful and may not give us the answers this side of heaven. I know that God could still take us somewhere NEW again and I could be writing another painful blog about what I don’t understand.

But what I hope this post does encourage is for us to dream with open hands, even in the midst of our suffering. To trust that God is good. That He gives and takes away because He knows how each one of His children will best come to an active, trusting relationship with Him. A mentor of mine recently reminded me that God is always in the business of doing whatever He has to do to make me more dependent on Him. And He will always do what is best for me because depending on Him is BEST. So dream a little. Even in the midst of your struggle. It could be that your dream will exist because of it.

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The God Who Sees Me.

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Written August 29, 2013

At the risk of sounding dramatic (oh who am I kidding) if you take a good look at the painting above of the story of Hagar from Genesis 16, THIS is exactly how the past two months have felt for me. Notice her hand clasped to her forehead in a theatrical Audrey Hepburn manner? (If you have seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Roman Holiday you’re tracking with me.) It’s what I do when I feel like I need Prozac, and coffee, and a vacation, and a scroll from Jesus to arrive on my doorstep with all the answers, oh and a job, but not necessarily in that order.

Notice her other arm is raised, and in my perception of this piece, this is a gesture desperately seeking help. She believes in God and she’s asking for some answers. Do you notice the desert? Somehow it still maintains some greenery here and there but for the most part it just appears to be dead. And hot. And she’d just been treated so badly at work she couldn’t take it anymore so she quit her job. And ran. Fast and far. And ended up HERE.

Now in my case, I didn’t quit my job, I lost it. So let’s pretend Hagar got “let go” by Abraham’s wife Sarah, for the sake of my attempt to apply this story to my own, ok? Thank you.

Hagar was fed up and had originally thought that by taking the job of being a slave to Abraham and Sarah, she was being obedient to God. Now she’s in the desert with a passive ex-husband and a kid she didn’t ask for, and no job. Oh and by the way, it’s been said in Jewish history that she was actually Pharoah’s daughter who had left the kingdom because she believed it was better to be a slave than to be a princess under his rule. Now there’s a sidenote: do you ever feel like that? Because I do! I chose to be a “slave,” to pursue something bigger than myself for the purpose of the Kingdom rather than maintain some high society reputation or corporate high-paying job, thinking I am being obedient to God and I STILL lost my job!

Sorry if that makes my heart sound ugly or ungrateful or lacking in faith. I just need to be honest today about what I don’t understand. But I can redeem my rant, I promise. Because no matter how much I relate to the pain of this story, I also love that Hagar responds to God’s pursuit of her in the desert by naming Him, The God Who Sees Me. Because I am clinging to that with all of my heart today. He sees me and He is doing something. I really do believe that. And somehow no matter how hurt I am, I still want to be in ministry. When God says to Hagar, “return,” all I keep thinking is that God wants me to continue looking for a job within the Church. To not run away, to return to ministry, but with the truth in mind that He is my boss, wherever I end up. I work for Him. This liberates me from disappointment with man, and liberates man from my ridiculous and impossible expectations.

Do you relate? Is God asking you to return to the very situation you wanna run away from?

He Sees US. He has not forgotten US. And somehow, He’s GOT THIS.

BRAVE.

Having an encounter with Jesus makes us brave.

I’m still reflecting on the book of John this month and all its goodness. The theme of bravery is everywhere! Just look at the woman at the well (John 4), the man paralyzed with his mat (John 5), and the man born with blindness (John 9) – after their experiences with Jesus, they all walk away changed, and they tell the world with no shame that they have been healed.

AND, they are not ashamed of Who healed them. They even knew that being associated with Him might bring persecution by the Pharisees, but they don’t seem to care. They are changed. They have a boldness that comes with being made new in Christ. They don’t know what the future holds but they know who they are NOT.

“I am no longer the woman in hiding, scorned for having numerous husbands that have left me.” (John 4)

“I am no longer the diseased man who sits begging for someone to help me be bathed.” (John 5)

“I am no longer the man who everyone assumes carries generational sin because of my blindness.” (John 9)

I am no longer the woman I used to be. I don’t know where in the world I am going with Jesus in the future, but I know for certain where and who I am not.

My wounds have become scars.

HEALED.

When I go back to the moment He healed me, I feel brave. Because I know who I was, and I know what He has done! I know that I am weak, but in Him I am strong.

Do you remember the joy of your salvation? When you first met Christ? You felt BRAVE didn’t you? Like you could do anything because Jesus was with you, for you, in you, made you, loves you, cherishes you, saved you; and nothing outside of that could hinder your new peace and your JOY.

But we lose that luster sometimes, don’t we? That zeal?

I know I do.

For heaven’s sake, just read my previous posts. I am sometimes an Israelite through and through.

Sometimes I forget I can be brave. Did you know scars can have painful nerves? Sometimes I think the enemy does just that. Tinges of pain in places that are healed. Exposes my past. Knows my vulnerabilities. And when I forget the meaning of the salvation of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit within me, I can get really distracted, discouraged, defeated and down.

When did I stop feeling brave? When I started to forget the Source of my identity in Christ, my purpose to serve Him, and my joy in spite of circumstances.

God in His goodness uses these times in my life to take me back to the trenches and regroup, rest, rejoice and remember the reason for the battle. FIGHT.

“Look at My scars. And by them, you are healed! Be brave, dear one, for I am with you.

I have summoned you by name, you are mine.”

 Isaiah 43:1, Isaiah 53:5

Where Would I Go?

I am currently studying the book of John, and God has used a tiny dialogue in this gospel to speak volumes to me the past month.

So here’s the scene…

Jesus has just rocked the world of many of his followers by saying they must eat and drink his body and blood, and now because of this scandalous language, has lost nearly all of his disciples. He looks around at the remaining men and says, “do you want to leave, too?”

But in John 6:68, “Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

PETER!

In my last post, I shared that I relate so much to Peter, and that he was often pretty ridiculous. He struggled with being a little too bold, sometimes doubtful and prideful, often hasty and fearful. But what I love and appreciate most about him is that Peter, being a man of many emotions and shortcomings, actually GETS it!

At the end of the day, Peter shows us in this passage that he knows there really is no turning back. He is a changed man because of Jesus, no matter what he doesn’t understand…

and…I like Peter, do not understand my life right now.

I got engaged to my love one month ago (HOORAY!) and three days later, I lost my job (BOO!). This job being the one that I quit my other great job for because, at the time, well, that made sense.

And things were originally going realllly well. And making sense. And I was excited about life and all the ministry opportunites I envisioned ahead. I was dreaming and planning!

But then they didn’t happen. And I won’t go into all that, but REALLY. It doesn’t make sense…

So, now I am chewing on all of this. What do we do with these life situations? I mean, I gotta be honest, I am trying to celebrate this new, beautiful journey of engagement with the man I love, with all the hoopla and the wedding planning and such, but can I be real, folks, I currently have a laptop showing me two screens at once: MyWedding.com and Jobing.com. REALLY?! Not ideal.

I don’t get Him and His ways. This didn’t surprise Him. But it surprised ME. And sometimes He does things that really make me question. Question my purpose, His goodness, my obedience, His will, and the dreaded lies that the enemy loves to throw during times like this, “you must have done something wrong!” (LIAR!)

I fight the enemy back with Scripture and I know I did nothing wrong to be jobless right now (see John 9:3). But I am still human, and when Jesus looks at me feeling sorry for myself, crying into The Knot magazine and asks me, “Are you offended by me? Do you want to leave? Do you doubt that I am taking you somewhere new, maybe even better? Is this YOUR ministry, or MINE?”

HUMBLED.

All I can say through my sniffles is, “Where would I go?…You are so good to me. Always. You always take care of me. You give and you take because YOU KNOW what is best FOR me, and YOU ARE always FOR me.”

TRUTH.

But then my flesh gets feisty and dare I say, MAD, and shouts, “WHAT IS GOING ON, GOD?! WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN, NOWWWWWW?”

WHINING AGAIN.

Then Jesus, patient and kind, slow to anger and abounding in love, sweetly continues to remind me,

“Brianna, Be Still. You Know Me. And I Know You. I Calm the Storms. I Have the Words of Eternal Life, and I HAVE YOU.”

…Where Would I Go?

It Starts With Me.

I never imagined that my first entry would come from such a brutal place of humility. But I am very aware that what I have seen about myself today is part of why I began “Making Me New” in the first place…so now I will begin my confession.

I have always loved the disciple Peter. I have often felt a kindred spirit with that man and he is usually my quick response to the question, “Who are you most excited to meet in heaven?” (besides Jesus, because we all know JESUS is the right answer, every time).

The reason I love Peter is because I understand so much why he often behaved the way he did. He was a man of great passion. He was a man of bravery and boldness. He was often unwavering and quick to respond to a call of action. He was friends with Jesus. And he was in a process of being made new.

He was also quite ridiculous.

You see, for every story that sticks out to me about Peter, I was given a merciful but honest forehead flick by the Holy Spirit today:

1. ) Let’s start with the fact that Peter’s name was changed. Can you think of a better way to start fresh and new? I think Jesus knew for Peter that even his name had to change in order for him to hold on to that newness in times when the past seemed to creep up on him. To taunt him. While God has not given me a new name per se, he inspired this ministry on the truth of being made new and claiming new identity in Him. When I behave out of old patterns, he gently but firmly reminds me, “Daughter, you are not HER anymore. I am asking you to respond differently…”

2.) Peter asked questions. He was human and he didn’t try to hide this from the Son of God. He was the first to say to Jesus, “We have left everything for You. What do WE get out of this?” Yeesh. I would like to think I wouldn’t have been so selfish if I had been actively walking alongside Jesus but I DO THIS very thing! I all but yelled at Him today, “Why am I HERE?? What makes You think this is a good idea?!” And you know what I love? Jesus answers Peter. He welcomes the questions. And He lets me process out loud with Him, to dialogue until the answers come, or at least the peace comes.

3.) Peter was the first and only to step out of the boat when Jesus called. What a guy! Every one else sat in the boat probably either thinking one of two things: he is gonna die or he thinks he is soooo spiritual. But I get Peter here. I also claim to be a woman of great faith. I am often perceived in one of these two camps as well. But today I saw in myself that while I am a woman who tries to follow the call to action and hold great faith, I am also the woman who starts panicking, bargaining, doubting and shouting when the waters rise and the bravery no longer feels like such a great idea. I am quite ridiculous.

4.) Peter cut off a man’s ear when that man became a threat to his best friend, Jesus. Boy do I know and share that attribute. I will be the first to defend the ones I love, and my anger has caused me to do and say some crazy things. I have yet to wound anyone physically in my passionate defenses, but even in my desire to defend someone out of heroic love, I have often hurt another or just looked downright stupid. This is when every personality assessment that tries to put a positive spin on my “passion” needs to take a backseat to the motivation of doing all things in LOVE. Picking the right battles, maintaining emotionally stability, being less impulsive in moments that probably would be best to count to ten- these were areas of growth for Pete and they are for me.

5. ) Peter denied Jesus after saying he wouldn’t. Promising he wouldn’t. Indignantly shouting that he wouldn’t. He took offense at the very idea. But when the time came, the interrogation lamp quite hot, he did the very thing he said he wouldn’t do. Definition of hypocrite right? And there I am. Weeping next to Peter in disgust at how quickly I can flip the switch. I am so quick to tell others that they need to be calm, trust God, and not grow weary in doing well. And today I am the same cornered woman denying Him and His will for me.

Peter was precious to Jesus. Even though he was ridiculous, Jesus had great affection for Him. In fact, their relationship was unique and special. Jesus shared His heart with Peter. I think he genuinely liked Him. In fact, I will go so far as to say He probably laughed at and with Peter a lot. And don’t we know that we need the friend who can laugh, shake their head at our silliness and continue on the journey? We all need that tangible friend I think, but what if the Peter in us were to fully know that Jesus is that friend? That He smiles at our feeble attempts to be brave on His part. That He is still proud of our outrageous ability to be a anchored large ship when we are really just a shaky little boat. God showed me today that my passionate and bold love for Him MUST be held up by the motivation to LOVE patiently and kindly and not act out of fear. That I, the woman of great faith, am still prone to wander and to doubt. The fight or flight behavior raging inside of me has gotta go. It’s part of my sanctification. It’s part of my process of becoming more like Jesus. He is pruning this rotting branch that has to die so NEW and healthy fruit can grow.

Making Me New starts with me.

And I have to admit, I am a tearfully grateful branch. I am learning to abide.

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Beautiful Things

The song that inspired Making Me New…

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